Torture at a CIA Jail in Jordan
The Bush Administration insists it does not torture. Former detainees say otherwise.
AMMAN, Jordan -- Over the past seven years, an imposing building on the outskirts of this city has served as a secret holding cell for the CIA.
The building is the headquarters of the General Intelligence Department, Jordan's powerful spy and security agency. Since 2000, at the CIA's behest, at least 12 non-Jordanian terrorism suspects have been detained and interrogated here, according to documents and former prisoners, human rights advocates, defense lawyers and former U.S. officials.
The Jordanians specialized in two tactics:
Former prisoners have reported that their captors were expert in two practices in particular: falaqa, or beating suspects on the soles of their feet with a truncheon and then, often, forcing them to walk barefoot and bloodied across a salt-covered floor; and farruj, or the "grilled chicken," in which prisoners are handcuffed behind their legs, hung upside down by a rod placed behind their knees, and beaten.
Former detainee Al-Haj Abdu Ali Sharqawi says:
"I was kidnapped, not knowing anything of my fate, with continuous torture and interrogation for the whole of two years," Al-Haj Abdu Ali Sharqawi, a Guantanamo prisoner from Yemen, recounted in a written account of his experiences in Jordanian custody. "When I told them the truth, I was tortured and beaten."
Sharqawi said he was threatened with sexual abuse and electrocution while in Jordan. He also said he was hidden from officials of the International Committee for the Red Cross during their visits to inspect Jordanian prisons.
"I was told that if I wanted to leave with permanent disability both mental and physical, that that could be arranged," Sharqawi said in his April 2006 statement, which was released by a London-based attorney, Clive Stafford Smith, who represents Guantanamo inmates. "They said they had all the facilities of Jordan to achieve that. I was told that I had to talk, I had to tell them everything."
It's not just former detainees reporting torture:
Former U.S. counterterrorism officials and Jordanian human rights advocates [say]its interrogators had a reputation for persuading tight-lipped suspects to talk, even if that meant using abusive tactics that could violate U.S. or international law.
It's also the State Department:
For several years, however, the State Department has cited widespread allegations of torture by Jordan's security agencies in its annual report cards on human rights.
And other human rights groups:
Since 2006, the United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have issued reports on abuses in Jordan, often singling out the General Intelligence Department.
........In a report released in January 2007, Manfred Nowak, the U.N. special investigator for torture, found that "the practice of torture is routine" at GID headquarters and concluded "that there is total impunity for torture and ill-treatment in the country."
An isolated instance? Hardly.
Samieh Khreis, an Amman lawyer who has represented former Guantanamo inmates from Jordan, said testimony by former prisoners and others in Jordan reinforced a long-held suspicion that the CIA ran a satellite operation inside headquarters of the General Intelligence Department.
According to U.N. Investigator Nowak who personally visited the jail in Jordan:
In interviews with former GID prisoners, Nowak said, he heard repeated, credible reports of inmates being subjected to electric shocks, sleep deprivation and various forms of beatings, including farruj and falaqa.
He said several inmates reported that their chief tormentor was Col. Ali Birjak, head of the GID's counterterrorism unit and one of the officials who had denied cooperating with the CIA. Based on those interviews, Nowak recommended in his report that Birjak be investigated by Jordanian authorities on torture charges.
Jordan's response: They're lying, why would you believe someone with a criminal record.
Another example: Masaad Omer Behari, from Sudan:
While he was in custody in Amman, Behari said, guards meted out a combination of falaqa and farruj. They struck the soles of his feet with batons while he was handcuffed and hanging upside down, then doused him with cold water and forced him to walk over a salt-strewn floor."I thought they were going to kill me," he said. "I said my prayers, thinking I was going to die."
Bottom line: The CIA had a satellite jail inside the headquarters of Jordan's infamous spy agency with a long and well-earned reputation for torture. Prisoners got tortured.
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